Thursday, March 21, 2019

Anything at all, with energy

Why do they always look surprised.
Today there is two big pieces in The Atlantic about social media advancing some very dark ideas, and about trolling and fascism, so maybe it's a good day to post a long-form rant about a somewhat related, relatively minor irritant, which has been kicking around my drafts folder for a couple of weeks.

We've been seeing a new ilk of drumming video lately, that is the hyperactive bastard offspring of the famously terrible old “Expert Village” videos, mated with that crummy, lazy clickbait you see on Fxcebook:

“9 out of 10 can't name the capitals of three states.” 
“PERSONALITY TEST: What kind of omelette are you?” 
Answer: DENVER

That kind of blather. The drumming videos follow a similar formula, that is extremely simple:

1. Think of a dippy, urgent-sounding title.
2. Babble about nothing on video for 5-12 minutes.
3. Cut in footage of you acting funny. Edit out every microsecond of dead air. Plaster the video with text. Make a title card showing you looking surprised.
4. Make a couple of hundred of those.
5. Beg for follows and likes.
6. PROFIT$$$

Titles and concepts can be anything you can think of in one second:

IS YOUR RIDE CYMBAL MAKING PEOPLE MAD
DON'T HURT YOURSELF WITH STICKS
WATCH OUT FOR BEATER KNOCK
HIHATS CAN PINCH YOU  
BEATS THAT DRIVE PEOPLE CRAZY

The idea is to monetize people's intolerance for uncertainty, their fear of doing something wrong, and their unwillingness to trust themselves to figure anything out; so play up the consequences of screwing up:
BAD HABITS THAT RUIN YOUR DRUMMING 
DON'T BUY THE WRONG THING 
YOU ARE SCREWING UP WITHOUT KNOWING IT


There is frequently a subtext is juvenile insecurity. Play on these kinds of emotions:
PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT YOU 
PEOPLE KNOW EVERYTHING YOU DO 
PEOPLE THINK YOU LOOK FUNNY

But it is most important that you do not try. The “answers” you provide don't have to be good. You have only to offer a dim hope that you will address the thing you have triggered the target to care about, which he feels powerless to solve without the aid of a *kof* smart phone.

I'm serious: any crap idea at all that sounds like a drumming problem— take it and GO! Now! Run! Make the video. There is no such thing as being too inane. Don't try to improve it or make it good or valuable in any way. Every second you waste thinking about that nonsense, you are being denied the money and attention that are rightfully yours.

You can't worry that you are in any way unqualified to be making instructional videos, or that you lack any kind of talent as a media personality. This is about seizing attention, not about giving anything of value. Just be willing to say anything at all, with energy.

It doesn't hurt if you have a face that looks like an undisturbed plate of milk.

I hate to link to these people, but look at this once. You lose nothing by jumping ahead frequently.





Now, if you watched that and thought “Did I just give up nine minutes of my life for him to tell me to move my hand over here a little bit? Is that what just happened” you are not the target audience of that video. Your attitude is all wrong. You need to just be mesmerized by the screen for a few hours, letting the wash of drum-sounding nonsense cascade over you. Let the algorithm take you, and stop being so me focused— what can learn, blah blah blah. Sit there and be monetized.

It's pointless to criticize the substance of the videos, because that is absolutely not the point. The only point is attention. If you are interacting with them in any way— even to hate them, as we are doing here— you are serving their purpose. If you know or care anything about the subject, the videos are actually a form of monetized trolling.

This guy has made half a dozen versions of this same video:





Watching that, anyone who knows anything will observe:

1. What the hell was the point of that? What's the “lesson”? 
2. What he's doing doesn't even work. Playing an AC-DC beat badly along with a recording of Take 5... what???

The fundamental dynamic of this kind of trolling is that knowledgeable people will attempt to make an ordered statement out of nonsense, and correct it on its merits, while the troll just wants to prolong the argument and get more views. If knowledgeable people engage them and try to figure out what the hell they are talking about, and correct them, so much the better. Gives their followers someone to fight with.

Normally when I criticize drumming videos I feel a little bit bad about it. I care about the quality of the information, so I'm going to make my criticism, but often the videos are made by well-intentioned people just overstepping what they know. I usually hope they don't see my responses.

Not so with these exploiters. I want them to know. I want them to know that I want them to know. This puts me in the category of being a “hater.”

Now: you never hear ethical people calling others haters. It's always people doing something indefensible, basically running a scam, and they can't be fielding criticisms on their merits. They have turn it into these people are jealous of my youth, good looks, and success. There's also a primitive amoral egoism at work, that says I am me so I am good so what I do is right, and people against me are bad.

Happily, you can only run a business on vapor for so long. YouTube is rigorously managed by very clever people who are rabidly jealous of every cent they have to pay out to people making the actual videos. They frequently burns video makers by changing the rules on monetizing, collapsing their businesses overnight. I don't begrudge anyone a living, but if you're going to pretend to teach people about the drums, make an effort not to suck, and don't be a scumbag.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is not relevant to this post really, but I wanted to ask you a quick question about listening to (not playing) up tempos. I find that sometimes my brain shifts the hi-hat 2&4 so that I am hearing them as the downbeats 1&3. I find it hard to correct this once it "settles in" and the music is flying by, unless there are some clear accents on the 1, for example. Do you have any tips for correcting my brain if this happens? Also, should I continue to listen if I know I'm not hearing it right? I know that sounds strange, but I feel like listening in the "wrong" way is training my brain to hear in the "wrong" way.

Todd Bishop said...

Hey, writing up a short post in response to this!

Anonymous said...

Thank you!